Above Cat’s Eye Saloon and Red Brick Tavern, there are various apartments in which students can either be heard talking loudly or blasting MGK’s “my ex’s best friend.” Among the average apartment, there is a door that leads to something else: a showroom for the online clothing brand Olivette.
The showroom has white walls, minimalist decor and impeccably spaced clothing — a sharp contrast to the cluttered apartments that neighbor it. The multi-brand boutique carries solely sustainable or ethically made brands that are all individually sourced from the 24-year-old owner, founder and CEO of Olivette, Sophie Baird. Due to Baird’s devotion to creating a collection of pieces curated with purpose, each brand Olivette invests in is one that aligns with the company’s values.
Baird hugs anyone who walks through her door and doesn’t hesitate to ask if they would like a glass of champagne to sip while shopping or a miniature bag of gourmet popcorn from the popcorn shop her parents own.
“I want it to be a very intimate and personal shopping experience,” Baird said.
To elevate the online shopping experience for consumers, Baird brought her vision to life with an experiential and immersive environment in Athens by introducing a retail showroom.
Olivette differs from the typical retail space, given shoppers are only able to buy items in the showroom if they have booked an appointment prior to arriving.
“I think it brings that higher-end shopping experience,” Baird said.
Baird is able to style her clients, handpick exclusive items to fit the consumer’s aesthetic, provide professional advice and interact with each individual customer on a deeper level.
When browsing Olivette’s collection, shoppers can expect to see a variety of clothing options from activewear to sleek dresses, such as the vibrant blue Cooper Midi dress. However, frequently, the items that tend to sell the fastest are the neutral, basic staple pieces.
With fast fashion on the rise, Baird believes many young consumers are shifting toward buying more for less and resorting to valuing quantity over quality, but Baird wants to put an end to these harmful consumer practices by encouraging her target audience of young women to shop smarter by shopping sustainably.
“I definitely gravitate towards a capsule-like wardrobe. I don’t really buy into trends,” Baird said. “I want to give my wardrobe a higher purpose through buying sustainably and buying ethically and having these pieces that are going to be in my wardrobe, year after year, season after season.”
Kassidi Dominick, a junior at Ohio University studying marketing, is Baird’s intern and said she notices how Baird wants her business to be successful but also prioritizes making a change.
“Making a change in society with ethical clothing is more important to her,” Dominick said. “Bringing awareness to sustainable fashion is something that Sophie holds close to her heart.”
Ever since Baird was in middle school, she has been designing. When she was 14, she applied for her first job in retail as a sales associate at a denim store, and then when she was a freshman in high school, she started her own bow-making business out of her basement and was selling bows to all-star cheerleading teams across Massachusetts.
“I think I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit,” Baird said.
Though Appalachian Ohio wasn’t where Baird thought she would end up, her husband, Lionel Mauron, became the head coach of OU’s hockey team.
When Baird first arrived in Athens, she noticed the area lacked a more personable shopping experience, so she was excited to give her online store a presence in Athens.
“I honestly just want to meet people around Athens, let them come in, touch and feel the clothes and shop and just create a space that the people of Athens think is fun to be in,” Baird said.
Prior to moving, the couple lived in Columbus, where Baird worked at Victoria’s Secret before being laid off her assistant merchant position and being brought onto a different department.
“After being laid off, I knew it was a good time to start my own business, and then six months later, I brought it to life,” Baird said.
Baird always knew she was going to have her own company.
“The idea of sitting at a desk and not being able to just chase (my) dream with so much passion was not for me,” Baird said.
Through doing fashion merchandising in college, she found her passion.
“I think throughout this process, going through the learning curve and figuring everything out on my own has taught me a lot about myself and that the drive that you have can take you anywhere without having the brains behind it,” Baird said.
Dominick said she is able to feel inspired by Baird is influenced by her drive.
“Sophie has helped me grow as a person, professionally and personally,” Dominick said. “I have sharpened my social media skills since working with her and, most importantly, she has encouraged me to stay true to myself and to follow my heart and do what I love.”
Baird finds herself locking up her showroom every night, heading to an event, like an OU basketball game or dinner at Jackie O’s with her husband, and she hopes to be able to call Athens home and establish a name for herself and her brand.